Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Leadership PhD

First Advisor

Robson M. Marinho

Second Advisor

Tevni E. Grojales

Third Advisor

Shirley Freed


Problem. More than six times the number of applicants than can be accepted attempt to enter the theology program on the campus of the Adventist Brazilian University of São Paulo (UNASP). The number of applicants is increasing every year and the majority cannot follow their chosen career.

Purpose. The purpose of this study was to investigate and identify the dominant characteristics and the discriminant factors that motivated the career choice of freshman theology students in a private denominational university in Brazil. The study also analyzed the demographic characteristics of those students and their perceived sense of mission for a ministerial career.

Method. As a quantitative, descriptive and exploratory study, based on the survey research approach, this study found the dominant characteristics and the main discriminant factors that motivated the freshmen of the theology program of the Adventist Brazilian University, UNASP, by comparing the results of the applied socioeconomic and cultural questionnaires that are administered with the Exame Nacional de Cursos – ENC (National Exam of Study Programs) used yearly to test students on federal government campuses, between those theology students and the freshman students of other undergraduate programs of the same school.

In addition, a questionnaire developed by the researcher was used to find the discriminant factors that motivated such choice.

The results were obtained with a sample of 114 theology freshmen and 125 freshman students of other programs. Descriptive statistics was used to describe the students’ demographic profile, and relative frequency was used to make a comparison between students of theology, students of other programs, and students of the national sample. Exploratory factor analysis was used to develop a motivational scale with seven factors. In addition, discriminant analysis was used to identify which of those factors are discriminant factors (predictors) of career choice.

Findings. It was observed that the theology freshmen students’ dominant characteristics were related to age, marital status, race, family income, work and self-support, reading habits, kinds of books read, newspaper reading, library use, study hours, and gender; and were among the seven predictive factors of looking for communion with God, sense of vocation, search for self-fulfillment, sense of mission, search for status, preparation for a job or career, and looking for self-realization. The discriminant factors were sense of vocation, sense of mission, and looking for status. The accuracy of classification was 91.5% of all the cases.

Conclusions. The findings show that the theology freshman characteristics are in some aspects quite similar to the group of other students of the same school and of the national sample, but in some characteristics they are quite different in that they may be classified as a distinct group looking for a religious work or career. As far as predictive factors that motivate their career choice, there seems to be consistent predictive factors underlining the choice and motivation of a ministerial career, which are sense of vocation and sense of mission in contrast with the search for status and security.

Subject Area

Vocational guidance, Vocation--Seventh-day Adventists, Brazil Adventist University. Theological Seminary


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